Over the past eight years Naughton and Sosa Iglesias have tried to tease out the answer to this timeless question, in part, through a collaborative photography project. The images they made together are gathered in When We Were Strangers, a book that “deftly examines the experience of loving another from the perspective of a couple deeply entrenched in their relationship,” writes Red Hook Editions in a statement.
In lyrical – and often metaphorical – images and raw prose Naughton and Sosa Iglesias weave together the sublime, the difficult and the everyday occasions that comprise their relationship. They pay attention to the tender moments, yet also highlight the messy intersections and the limits of what a relationship can, or should, provide. At its core, When We Were Strangers is a love poem, one that explores what happens when two people attempt to become something more and less than themselves.
“Love is a cliché, an idea so easy to imagine but impossible to grasp. Like an overripe fruit, it collapses with a bit of pressure into cloying sweetness and the faint scent of something lost. But it is also perhaps our most essential endeavor. Mystical and dangerous, it is the inspiration for a billion journeys and a thousand petty conflicts,” write Naughton and Sosa Iglesias in the introduction.
A collaboration on every level, decisions about what to shoot – and how – are made jointly, and Sosa Iglesias sometimes takes the camera. They use timers and remotes, tripods and extended arms to take photos together. The book is the first chapter of a lifelong project deconstructing love through the prism of Naughton and Sosa Iglesias’s relationship.
By presenting a close-up look at queer love, the book helps correct a dearth in the record. Though there are more than a fair share of photo books about straight relationships, ones about queer people, living and loving, are rare.
Through March 22, an exhibition featuring images from When We Were Strangers is on view at United Photo Industries in Brooklyn, New York.
When We Were Strangers
By Jake Naughton and Juan Anibal Sosa Iglesias
Red Hook Editions